EMR for urologists goes mobile with iPhone app

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 8, 2012        

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meridianEMR iPhone app for UrologistsAmong the many physician specialties, urologists seem to be one group that is very likely to be using a smartphone. That was one of the conclusions that could be drawn from a survey published last year by Bulletin Healthcare, which found that only physician assistants, emergency room physicians, and cardiologists were more likely to use their mobile devices to keep up with industry news. Bulletin estimated that about 31 percent of urologists were likely to use their mobiles for this purpose. The same percentage as nephrologists.

While reading medical news on a mobile may not be a perfect proxy for an interest in accessing EMRs from the same device, but it likely has some correlation. That’s why it makes sense that an electronic medical records (EMR) vendor that specializes in EMRs for urologists, meridianEMR, recently announced the launch of a native iPhone app to complement its EMR offering. The meridianMobile app, which is only available for iPhone currently, promises secure access to real-time EHR data. MeridianEMR is a part of HealthTronics, which is a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings.

According to meridianEMR: “The app enables [urologists] to move seamlessly between the hospital or clinic, office, home, and beyond while maintaining comprehensive, convenient, and HIPAA-compliant access to their most current EHR data. Urologists can retrieve and modify up-to-the-minute patient information, office visits, and appointments. They can also access patient pharmacy information, medication refill alerts, patient photos, billing information, and more.”

The meridianEMR counts more than 1,100 urology providers as customers, about 12,500 urology staff as users, some 15 million mXchange transactions per day, for about 5 million active Urology patients. It also facilitates about 50,000 e-scripts per month.

More in the press release below: Keep reading>>

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PerfectServe pockets $10.9 million in funding

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 8, 2012        

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PerfectServeLast week clinical communications services provider PerfectServe announce that it had raised $10.9 million in its third round of funding. PJC Capital, the PE arm of Piper Jaffray led the round, which also included participation from new investors National Healthcare Services and CHV Capital. Return backers River Cities Capital Funds, Village Ventures, and Spring Mill Venture Partners also participated. CHV Capital is the strategic investment arm of the Indiana University Health System and National Healthcare Services is the strategic investment arm of the MemorialCare Health System.

PerfectServe’s offering is a communications system that routes calls and messages to the right doctor from anywhere inside the hospital but also between physicians who happen to be outside the hospital. The offering enables physicians to determine how they should be contacted at any given moment during the day: mobile, text message, office phone, home phone, pager, or email. Perfect also offers native apps for iPhone and Android. The iPhone app enables physicians to contact colleagues directly, call patients while protecting their caller ID, change their call schedules and control how they are reached for various clinical situations. PerfectServe for Android devices also enables physicians to contact colleagues directly, call patients while protecting their caller ID, and view a history of all calls, pages, voice and text messages, according to the company.

Knoxville, Tennessee-based PerfectServe already claims to process more than 30 million transactions each year by connecting more than 20,000 physicians in health systems and medical practices across the United States. Two of its most recent customer additions include Advocate Christ Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Medical Center in San Joaquin County.

Advocate Christ Medical Center, a 695-bed Magnet hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois that is part of Advocate Health Care, recently tapped PerfectServe to standardize communications between physicians and nursing, pharmacy and ancillary teams to improve patient care coordination. The 359-bed St. Joseph’s Medical Center in San Joaquin County equipped some of its 2,400 employees with PerfectServe after a three month period of installation, testing, and training. A local news report implied that the deployment at St. Joseph’s cost about $250,000.

“Our old hospital communication systems were inadequate, relying heavily on overhead pages, hand offs to third-party answering services and manual processes that required nursing staff to maintain and refer to numerous lists and faxed call schedules,” Dr. Susan McDonald, St. Joseph’s vice president of medical affairs, told RecordNet.com.

More details on the third round funding in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Healthrageous adds Telcare’s cellular-enabled glucose meter

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 8, 2012        

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Telcare Blood Glucose MeterBoston-based Healthrageous has inked a co-marketing deal with Telcare, developer of the FDA-cleared cellular-enabled Telcare Blood Glucose Meter (BGM), to integrate blood glucose readings collected from the device into Healthrageous’ “personal health improvement” platform. The companies plan to market the combined offering to health plans and self-insured employers.

Here’s how the company describes the platform: “The Healthrageous Personal Health Improvement Platform helps individuals modify their health habits and behaviors utilizing an evidence-based protocol (or ‘journey map’) for diabetes management. Individuals create an online assessment of health habits associated with managing diabetes and a personalized action plan to control their blood glucose. When an individual uses the Telcare BGM to take a blood glucose reading, that data will be seamlessly integrated into the Healthrageous ‘biometric scorecard’ to validate that their health habits and behavior changes are having a positive impact on their condition.”

Healthrageous’ “digital coach” will then identify and push personalized messages, alerts and other relevant content to individual users. The platform offers incentive tracking, team and individual competitions, informational videos, medication reminders, and an online HIPAA-compliant community.

Last November Philadelphia-based health insurer Independence Blue Cross let it slip that it was testing out Healthrageous’ wellness platform in-house among its own employee population. It planned to use the pilot to determine whether it would offer it to its 3.2 million health plan members. At CES last month Ford announced that it was working with Healthrageous to integrate the health platform with some of its cars. Last May some 1,000 people were using the Healthrageous platform, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Healthrageous signed up EMC for its original pilots.

Telcare secured FDA clearance of its BGM device last August. A few weeks ago Telcare announced its first deal: MagnaCare, health plan that services self-funded employers in New York and New Jersey, signed on to make the device and its companion apps available to its members.

More on the Healthrageous deal with Telcare in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Draft senate bill to ease telehealth licensure challenges

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 7, 2012        

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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAt some point this Spring, and perhaps as early as April, Senator Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, plans to introduce a bill that would help ease some of the biggest barriers currently facing telehealth. The expected bill, which is still being drafted, would streamline licensure portability for physicians and make it easier for them to practice telemedicine in more than one state.

Udall’s legislative assistant Fern Goodhart told Government Health IT that the bill would streamline licensure for physicians by creating a unified set of standardized data in a comprehensive, interoperable database of primary source verified credentials that might include claims history, hospital privileges, and criminal background check with one unified application. Goodhart also predicted that multi-state could just be the beginning and telemedicine could have nationwide licensure ultimately.

GlobalMed Blog adds some more details: “Senator Udall’s bill would set up a voluntary system in which doctors would be licensed by their state boards who would retain jurisdiction for disciplinary issues. At the same time, doctors could sign up for a national license that would [allow] them to practice any medicine – not just telemedicine – in any cooperating state. A Udall aide says that the bill may have to include some incentives to bring states along with the concept. (For medical board buy-in, especially those that will lose license fees from physicians who hold multiple state licenses, this may be a key component.)”

In an earlier post, GlobalMed Blog noted that the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) believes Udall’s bill is on the wrong track: Lisa Robin, the FSMB’s Chief Advocacy Officer said that: “The FSMB and representatives of the New Mexico Medical Board have conveyed to the Senator (Udall) strong opposition to the draft legislation in its current form, arguing that the bill undermines state-based licensure and replaces it with a national licensure system that has potential to compromise state autonomy in the regulation and practice of medicine and the protection of the public,” according to the post. Robin told Udall FSMB would help Udall rework it.

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA), which organized the meeting during which Goodhart shared Udall’s plans for the bill, summed up the meeting like so: “It was pointed out that the issues went beyond telemedicine to include the millions of travelers, large employers and others. Concerns came from both rural and urban areas and included both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress. Legislation to address the issues is being drafted by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and a variety of approaches to resolve the problems are under consideration by a number of parties.”

These are important developments for mobile health — here’s hoping they lead to real action.

If you missed the meeting but would like to tune in, the full 1.5 hour video of it is available over at Vimeo here.

CardioComm enters mobile cardiac telemetry market

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 7, 2012        

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CardioComm ECG Monitor

CardioComm ECG Monitor

CardioComm Solutions and TZ Medical inked a device integration and distribution deal that brings the pair into the the mobile cardiac telemetry (MCT) electrocardiographic (ECG) and arrhythmia management market. CardioComm will integrate TZM’s Aera CT MCT monitor into its GEMS software to create a new offering called GEMS Aera CT. It will be an extension of CardioComm’s GEMS Air, a global ECG management offering.

Other companies already offering mobile cardiac telemetry services include Corventis, CardioNet, and LifeWatch.

“Few companies have been able to address the need for a more beneficial mobile arrhythmia monitoring tool. The majority are large IDTFs that produce their own proprietary MCT device which are restricted for use within their own customer base,” Etienne Grima, CEO of CardioComm Solutions stated. “TZM has engineered the first FDA cleared OEM MCT device which, with our GEMS software, will enable small and large IDTF and medical call centers to now enter the MCT market, a market which represents a significant revenue generating opportunity. The MCT market is USA specific where CMS approved reimbursement for this diagnostic test is particularly favorable at $754.” More here.

In semi-related news: One former cardiologist turned consultant recently argued in a column that patients should be given access to the data captured from their implantable heart devices. MCT monitoring does not generally leverage an implantable device, but the argument seems to hold for both:

“Furnishing of this data will benefit patients,” Dr. David Lee Scher wrote over at KevinMD.com. “Some patients will want to receive the entirety of the data, though they might not understand it all. However, most would do well with limited pertinent information which would serve them and their caregivers well. In either case, both population groups deserve it.”

Few SMS health applications have been evaluated

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 7, 2012        

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Text4babyPhoneThe Journal of Medical Internet Research recently published a research paper called, SMS Applications for Disease Prevention in Developing Countries, that found while there have been many text message-powered health initiatives, very few of them have been sufficiently evaluated.

“Those that did conduct evaluations reported process evaluation and uptake, providing limited data about behavior change. Moreover, with a low number of documents found in the peer-reviewed literature, it appears that, to date, little is being done to advance our understanding of what works and what outcomes could be achieved in using SMS for disease prevention in a developing country context. Major opportunities are perceived, evident by the number and wide variety of projects… However, the need remains for evidence-based dissemination of information about using mobile phones and SMS for improving health in the developing world. The limited evidence found in this systematic review highlights the need for research that assesses behavioral, social, economic, and health outcomes of mobile phone interventions aimed at promoting health in developing country contexts,” wrote the three Switzerland-based researchers: Dr. Dr. Carole Déglise, Suzanne Suggs, and Peter Odermatt.

The study reviewed 34 SMS applications (excluding those not launched in developing markets or that focused on disease prevention) but only five had made available evaluation study findings. The researchers stated that most of the applications they reviewed were pilot projects “in various levels of sophistication” with “modes of intervention varying between one-way or two-way communication, with or without incentives, and with educative games.” Of those five SMS applications that did have evaluation findings available, the researchers said that the “primary barriers identified were language, timing of messages, mobile network fluctuations, lack of financial incentives, data privacy, and mobile phone turnover.”

Efficacy studies for all mobile health services — not just those for developing markets — is shaping up to be one of the big trends of 2012.

Be sure to read the entire research paper over at JMIR here.